2 days on and I stand by my initial take on Gladys Knight live in the year 2020: there isn’t a greater soul singer alive, and nor is there a pop star I’ve seen in my 30 years of gig-going capable of a more flawless in-concert vocal performance. The fact all of this is delivered by someone aged 75 only makes Gladys all the more remarkable.
Click here to read my NZ Herald review of Thursday night’s show at Auckland’s Civic theatre, including the tear-inducing moments, the on-the-feet moments, the spontaneous setlist changes and the two members of the crowd that I’m sure I’ll never forget.
Sure, the golden triumvirate of my three all-time favourite lesser-known Gladys top 40 hits – Didn’t You Know You’d Have To Cry Sometime, Letter Full Of Tears and Make Me The Woman That You Go Home To – sadly didn’t make the cut, but when the command of your instrument is as unimpeachable as Gladys’ voice is, I can deal with it.
The funky Curtis Mayfield-written top 10 smash from the 1974 soundtrack Claudine, On And On, was another notable absentee from the setlist, as was perhaps more surprisingly one of Motown’s very biggest sellers of 1971, If I Were Your Woman. But these are matters of personal preference rather than any critique, for to see Gladys Knight live is to be in the genuine presence of greatness. There are plenty of legends who fail to deliver in a live setting, but the “Empress Of Soul” isn’t one of them.
And besides, any concert that features note-perfect renditions of Every Beat Of My Heart, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, I’ve Got To Use My Imagination, The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, Neither One Of Us, The Nitty Gritty, Licence To Kill, Baby Don’t Change Your Mind and of course, Midnight Train To Georgia, is pretty hard to argue against.
Once again, click here to read my NZ Herald review for the full rundown. She really was that good.